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Suicide Emerges As India's Largest Public Health Crisis, Experts Warn

The recent tragic suicide of a father-son duo in Mumbai has once again highlighted the growing crisis of suicide in India, which experts say is the largest public health issue affecting both young and old. India holds the unfortunate record of having the highest number of suicides in the world. According to a National Crime […]

Suicide Emerges As India's Largest Public Health Crisis, Experts Warn
Suicide Emerges As India's Largest Public Health Crisis, Experts Warn

The recent tragic suicide of a father-son duo in Mumbai has once again highlighted the growing crisis of suicide in India, which experts say is the largest public health issue affecting both young and old.

India holds the unfortunate record of having the highest number of suicides in the world. According to a National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report released in April, 171,000 people died by suicide in India in 2022. The suicide rate has risen to 12.4 per 100,000 people, the highest ever recorded in the country.

Root Causes of Suicide

Health experts point out that depression is the primary reason behind the alarming suicide rates. Depression, a mental illness that can be genetic or triggered by various stressors, is prevalent among many who take their own lives.

“The most common underlying reason for suicide is depression, often referred to as stress in layman’s terms. It can also be due to impulsiveness or other factors, but the majority are because of depression,” Rajiv Mehta, Vice Chairperson of the Institute of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi, told IANS.

Mehta identified common stressors such as work-related issues, financial problems, relationship conflicts, and health concerns. “These areas of life can produce stress, which, when severe, can lead to anxiety and depression, ultimately resulting in suicide,” he explained.

Studies indicate that 50 to 90 percent of individuals who die by suicide also suffer from mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

Suicide: A National Health Crisis

“Today, suicide is the largest public health crisis facing India. It is the leading cause of death among youth,” said Shyam Bhat, Psychiatrist and Chairperson of LiveLoveLaugh. He noted that suicide often occurs impulsively during periods of extreme stress, with vulnerable individuals struggling to cope with financial difficulties, medical conditions, or personal loss. Loneliness and isolation are also significant risk factors.

“The rising trend of suicide in India is quite concerning and calls for immediate attention,” added Shambhavi Jaiman, Consultant Psychiatrist at Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurugram. She pointed out that, in addition to mental health concerns, economic stress, unemployment, financial instability, debt, family conflicts, and marital discord contribute to feelings of hopelessness and suicide.

Breaking the Stigma

Discussions about suicide are often shrouded in stigma and fear, which only adds to the issue. Bhat emphasized the need for offering genuine support without judgment or unsolicited advice to those in distress.

“If you notice someone feeling depressed or down, encourage them. Offer support in helping them connect with a mental health professional who can provide perspective and guidance,” he advised.

The increasing rate of suicide in India underscores the urgent need for comprehensive mental health support and public awareness to address this critical public health crisis.

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health concernNational Crime Records BureauSucideTDGThe Daily Guardian